Pak-Afghan transit trade agreement extended for six months

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Thursday signed the Protocol-VI of Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) 2010 to extend the agreement for six months beyond 11-05-2021.

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The extension was essential to facilitate uninterrupted flow of transit trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan and to provide sufficient time to technical teams to conclude negotiations on the new APTTA-2021, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The 2010 agreement replaced the Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement that was signed in 1965 and which gave Afghanistan the right to import duty-free goods through Pakistani seaports.

The 2010 APTTA allows both countries to use each other’s airports, railways, roads and ports for transit trade along designated transit corridors. The agreement does not cover road transport vehicles from any third country including India or any other Central Asian country.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and Afghan Minister for Industry and Commerce Faizi Ghoryani jointly chaired a virtual ceremony for signing of the ‘Protocol-VI of APTTA 2010’. Secretary Com­merce Mohammad Sualeh Ahmad Faruqi and Deputy Commerce Minister of Afghanistan were also a part of the ceremony.

The two sides decided to meet in Kabul on the sidelines of the ninth APTTCA meeting to hold business and investment conference next month and also push forward negotiations on APTTA-2021.

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The Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan along with the trade and investment counselor in Kabul represented the government at the ceremony held at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Kabul.

Mr Dawood and Afghan Minister Ghoryani appreciated the work of technical teams for the progress attained so far in the negotiations. They ordered the technical teams to forge consensus on the outstanding issues in the new APTTA-2021, to ensure its conclusion, signing and notification at the earliest for the benefit of trade, transit, investment and connectivity between the two brotherly countries.

Earlier, Pakistan amended the bonded carrier regime system for Afghan transit trade to comply with the traders’ demands.

“Under new regulations even owner of 1 truck can now transport bonded cargo. This ends the rent seeking & monopoly of a few & substantially reduces the transportation cost,” Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq tweeted on Wednesday. The bonded cargo is transported from Pakistani ports to Afghanistan and beyond, he added.

It is important to note that interior ministry yesterday closed the Torkham border point for all kinds of movement on the orders of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The decision came after Dr Faisal Sultan, the special assistant to the prime minister on health, said that there had been a “small but definitive uptick in [coronavirus] cases, percentage positivity and other parameters” in the country.

Though, the NCOC was informed that 3,000 Afghan students had started arriving in Pakistan, the interior minister Sheikh Rashid on Tuesday tweeted that Torkham border had been closed. “On the advice of the NCOC all types of immigration departure and arrival will be close from today at Torkham Border till the fresh Guidelines of NCOC,” he announced.